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Cougars Drop Tournament Opener

Ashley Witt
Ashley Witt

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – SIUE volleyball fell in the opening match of the Scenic City Showdown as host Chattanooga topped the Cougars 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21 at Maclellan Gymnasium.

SIUE dropped to 5-2 with the loss. The Cougars have two games scheduled for Saturday at the tournament. SIUE faces Georgia State at 9 a.m. CT and Jackson State at 3:30 p.m. CT.

Taylor Joens and Ashley Witt led the SIUE offense with 13 kills each. Joens was the team's top blocker with four.

SIUE Acting Head Coach Kendall Paulus found several positives, including a strong serve and 82 digs from the defense. Five players finished in double figures in digs, led by 17 from setter Samantha Knight.

"We absolutely battled," said Paulus. "We had a lot of fight in us."

The Cougars were off to a good start against the Mocs, winning the opening set. Emily Harrison accounted for the final two points of the set on a block at 24-19 and a kills at 25-20.

Chattanooga, 6-3, turned around its fortunes in the second set behind five kills from Dani Szczepanski. She finished the match with 12 overall and led all players with a .458 hitting percentage.

Ally Ford paced the Mocs with a match-high 16 kills. Sarah Root added 10.

"It was evenly matched," said Paulus. "That's why there were so many highs and lows."

The Cougars hit .135 for the match as a team while Chattanooga hit .200.

SIUE led 19-16 in the fourth set, looking to send the match to a fifth frame. However, Chattanooga rallied for six straight points to take a 22-19 lead.

"We were ahead in the fourth set," said Paulus. "They just fed off the crowd. It was a good atmosphere."